BIG BUSINESS, ORGANIZED LABOR AND HOUSE REPUBLICANS JOIN FORCES TO REJECT HIGHER FUEL EFFICIENCY STANDARDS FOR SUV'S, PERMIT OIL EXPLORATION IN THE ARCTIC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, AND PROVIDE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN TAX BREAKS FOR THE ENERGY INDUSTRY.
NEWS HEADLINES BIG BUSINESS, ORGANIZED LABOR AND HOUSE REPUBLICANS JOIN FORCES TO REJECT HIGHER FUEL EFFICIENCY STANDARDS FOR SUV'S, PERMIT OIL EXPLORATION IN THE ARCTIC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, AND PROVIDE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN TAX BREAKS FOR THE ENERGY INDUSTRY Handing President Bush a huge victory, the House of Representatives late yesterday rejected a proposal to boost fuel efficiency standards for SUVs and approved oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The measures were part of a sweeping energy bill containing over $33 billion in tax breaks and incentives for the power industry. The bill was backed by a powerful coalition of the oil, gas, coal and nuclear power industries as well as organized labor. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the energy sector contributed nearly $65 million to federal candidates and parties in 1999-2000, 75 percent to Republicans. One of the bill's sponsors, Louisiana Republican Billy Tauzin, raked in nearly $200,000 in campaign contributions from energy companies. The bill's other sponsors also received large donations. A National Academy of Sciences report released earlier this week contradicted years of arguments by the auto industry. It concluded that SUVs and trucks could achieve between 25-50% better mileage, at a cost which would be completely offset by savings on fuel. Despite this, Democrats from auto-producing states joined a majority of Republicans to preserve leave gas mileage standards for SUVs almost unchanged, instead of raising them to the same level as cars. A full-sized sport utility vehicle emits nearly 11 tons of carbon dioxide a year, an important global warming gas. That is almost twice as much as the mid-sized cars that have dominated the American road. In another vote yesterday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday unanimously approved a resolution calling on President Bush to return to the bargaining table this fall with specific proposals for either revising the Kyoto global warming treaty or negotiating a new binding agreement for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Today we're going to have a debate on SUVs, global warming, and the Bush Energy plan. We will be joined shortly by spokespeople from the Sierra Club and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. But we're going to begin with Kieth Bradsher, the New York Times reporter who won a George Polk award for his investigative reporting on SUVs. Guest: Keith Bradsher, Detroit Bureau Chief for the New York Times. Story: SUV'S, GLOBAL WARMING, AND THE BUSH ENERGY PLAN: A DEBATE Guests: Greg Dana, Vice President of Environmental Affairs for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (which represents 13 vehicle manufacturers, including DaimlerChrysler, General Motors, BMW, Ford, and others, who account for over 90% of sales in the U.S.). Kate Simmons, conservation organizer for the Sierra Club, and on the Global Warming and Energy Team. Keith Bradsher, Detroit Bureau Chief for the New York Times. Related links: Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers Sierra Club Story: ENVIRONMENTAL WRITER BILL MCKIBBON ON WRITING, OBJECTIVITY, AND SUV'S Writer Bill McKibben knows a thing or two about SUV's and the environment. Last month Bill McKibben helped to organize a series of protests at car dealerships in the Boston Area calling on people to reject the ubiquitous and gas guzzling SUV in favor of more fuel efficient vehicles. He is also the author of seven books, including The End of Nature, a landmark work on the threat to the environment posed by our way of life here in the US. It was also one of the first bestsellers on the environment written for a general audience. He recently wrote Long Distance: A Year of Living Strenuously, in which he takes a year off "from failing to save the world" to train to become a cross-country skier. McKibben is currently a fellow at Harvard Divinity School's Center for the Study of Values in Public Life. He spoke last weekend at a gathering of the League of Vermont Writers about the social responsibilities of writers, objectivity, and SUV's. Tape: Bill McKibben, author of seven books, including The End of Nature, a landmark work on the threat to the environment.